The fourteenth survey for the members of the Rural Voice Information Panel (Rural VIP) was sent out November 5, 2020 to 227 members. The purpose of the survey was to determine if there are resources related to rural health-care education in respondents’ communities and if panel members know what is locally available, if students in the community know how to find information about rural health education, careers, and pathways, and to increase general awareness about health-care education and resources available for youth.
The pathway to rural practice is a framework of programs and initiatives that exposes rural high school students to health-care careers and provides rural practice and community lifestyle learning opportunities to post-secondary health science students.
Although 66 per cent of respondents agreed that information about health-care education pathways and careers are available in their community and 56 per cent agreed that their community encourages their youth to pursue health-care careers, 98 per cent agreed that their community needs more resources and supports to encourage youth to pursue health sciences career paths. These results suggest that there is room for improvement in communities to develop additional supports (or capacity within existing supports) that encourage youth to pursue health-care careers.
Most respondents (75 per cent) indicated that their community participates in at least one initiative or activity to promote health-care careers. The most common initiatives or activities utilized by communities were career fairs to increase awareness of health-care careers (44 per cent) and scholarships for local students to pursue an education in health sciences (42 per cent).
When asked about what additional supports the community would need to promote youth to pursue health-care careers, the responses had three major themes. The most common theme was that communities need more supports to allow them to target high school students, which would provide them with early exposure about health-care education and career opportunities. As one respondent eloquently wrote, “Experiential knowledge is powerful in the minds of the youth”.
Health professionals who grew up in rural communities are more likely to work in rural communities upon completion of their education and training. Input from this survey helps to inform RhPAP’s educational resources and programming, so that we can support rural Albertan communities in promoting and encouraging health-care careers.
We are sharing the results and feedback with interested stakeholders and groups who are included in the survey questions. Each month, RhPAP also shares learnings and feedback from the Rural VIP with Alberta Health and the RhPAP Board of Directors, who represent the following organizations: Alberta Health Services, Alberta Medical Association, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta, Rural Municipalities of Alberta, and the College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta.